Cider is more similar to beer than it is to wine

Except for the fermentation (Compering to beer), everything else is different. The only way that the finished product is like beer is that it is closer in alcohol content to beer (between 5% to 8%), and that cider is often carbonated. In every other way it’s exactly like wine: “You pick the fruit, you ferment the juice, and you let the fruit express itself”. Unlike beer, which involves more cooking and recipe development, cider is more about the fermentation process and the expression of the fruit itself.

The process of making craft cider is similar to that for making wine. It starts with tending the trees and harvesting the fruit at optimal ripeness. The apples are washed and then ground and pressed to extract the juice. Fermentation takes place in steel tanks or oak barrels. The fermentations are slow and cool, as with white wine, to retain freshness and aromatics.

BUT:

Commercial cider was first introduced as a slightly fizzy and sweet alternative to beer in the 1980s, and today is marketed and sold much like beer. Companies such as Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Michelob have capitalised on cider’s rising popularity, and their bottling account for the vast majority of cider sales in the U.S. The nearly $400-million-dollar industry saw sales increase from 4.5 million cases sold in 2010 to 23.2 million cases in 2014.

These ciders generally clock in at lower than 7 percent alcohol by volume, and can contain apple concentrate and additives that allow them to be made year-round and sold cheaply.

Craft ciders, on the other hand, take their models more from fine wine. In fact, ciders above 7 percent ABV are considered wine: Like wine, they must have a TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco tax and trade bureau) -approved label but are not required to include ingredients listings. Crucially, they must be derived wholly from apples. However, cideries are not permitted to list appellation or vintage on their labels.

Craft cider reflects a diversity of styles, ranging from beerlike versions that are by turns hopped, smoked and infused, to more winelike ciders, either sparkling (some made with traditional Champenoise methods) or still, as single-apple varietals fermented dry and aged in oak barrels.

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